Sunday, April 27, 2014

Race Recap: The Martian Marathon

Ok, so when I left you all, I was barely into my training for the Martian Marathon. I had decided to run a marathon after my father-in-law was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I linked up with Team Fox, the fundraising arm of the Michael J. Fox Foundation and got to work!

My mom decided to fly in to witness my first marathon, and my friend joined me to run the half marathon.  By the afternoon of Friday, April 11, we had collected everyone, and headed to Dearborn for the Expo. I'll admit, I had low expectations. The previous two races I'd done in Michigan had very tiny, very underwhelming Expos. I got a laugh right away when we pulled into the parking lot and were greeted by many inflatable Martians. 

Maybe Eric isn't feeling confident about his race...

I was overall very impressed by the Expo. Everything ran smoothly and was easy, and there were plenty of booths with useful gear. I actually picked up a new medal hanger, and was happy that they had the 26.2 stickers available. I also bought a pint glass. I've come to the decision that every race should offer pint glasses.

Got my bib!  And made a new friend...

The next morning, I rousted us all out of bed at about 4 a.m.  The Marathon would step off at 7:15, and there was a parking lot immediately next to the start and finish lines that would close at 6:30. Supposedly this lot was only for marathoners, and I do wish someone would have checked bib numbers and controlled the lot a bit better. Parking quickly started to be outside of the lines, and I believe cars were still pulling in as we ran off. 

Quick pre-race Island Boost, wrapped in my husband's Army woobie!

The weather was perfect. The low was 44, no clouds and no wind. The start line was fairly informal, made of a banner on PVC piping, but hey, as long as the timing mats work, who cares? After the National Anthem, we were off!

The race started up a slight hill and then turned through some neighborhood streets. I quickly dropped into the thin back of the pack, which was my intent. I was hoping to conserve energy and told myself to go slow. The path took us down briefly onto Hines Drive, a long, winding road through park area. But the Marathon quickly broke off and weaved through neighborhoods. The path was well marked and well stocked with volunteers and inflatable Martians scattered around. I'm sure some people weren't thrilled with this section, but I didn't mind. It reminded me of my training runs. There were a few hills thrown in, but nothing too crazy, and one or two families came out to cheer. 

I finished the first 8 miles feeling really strong. At Mile 9, two things happened. First, the paths of all the races merged again. We were dumped back onto Hines Drive. Second, I had only run a short bit when bikes passed me, and the drivers announced they were the Half Marathon leader escorts. What??  Yup...  the leaders of the Half were 4 miles in... I was 9.5 miles in, and here came these two skinny high school kids just plain flying by me. Yikes. 

The path goes down Hines Drive and then doubles back. For a little bit, this was fun. I saw most of the half marathoners, and all the marathoners come back. The real benefit to this was that there was almost no crowd support at this race, so the double-back allowed us to cheer for each other. 

At about Mile 14, I was still feeling OK, but also feeling very warm, and very, very sweaty. I'd trained outside, which meant training in snow storms, the Polar Vortex, and -22 degree wind chills. The weather had warmed a bit, but top training temp was about 50. The high on race day was 71. Sunny, cloudless, and approaching 70 was kicking my butt!  I began chatting with another runner who was using the Galloway method. She was doing 4 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking, and I began to notice she was catching me on each run. At around Mile 15.5, I decided to join her.  Despite being in shorts and a tank top, I was HOT, I could feel the sun and the salty sweat on my face. AND, she was keeping the same pace as me with presumably less effort. 

I said hi to my new running partner, Denise, and off we went. We were on the slower side, but I didn't care, I just wanted to finish.  At around Mile 18, we picked up another girl, Erika, who had fallen out.

At about Mile 23, we got off Hines Drive and headed into a wooded path, and then the campus of U of M - Dearborn. Hines was pretty, but I couldn't have been happier to get off! It was getting very boring, and had a slight tilt that was annoying my legs. 

That last bit was miserable. I was so tired, and so ready to be done, but by the time I saw the Mile 24 sign, I knew I would finish. I had to. When we reached a half mile left, Denise wanted to walk again, but I had the adrenaline to finish. We thanked each other and spread out on different paces. 

The finish was great. You rounded a corner with about .4 miles left and could almost see the end. You could see Martians, and finally a crowd. There was a left turn ahead and just before the turn was Mile 26.  At the corner, I saw my mom and ran over to give her a giant hug. I won't lie, I almost started crying right then and there!  She tried to run alongside me toward the finish, but couldn't quite keep up in her ballet flats :)  

The finish corrals were a bit too thin for my taste. I had to duck around cones to pass some Half Marathoners who were walking, but couldn't go too far to the right because the Kids' 1 Mile was finishing. As I neared the finish line, I could see my husband, and there was a volunteer right at the finish line who told us slow pokes, "Great job!! Marathoner!!!"  I crossed the finish line in pure joy, grabbed a water, which was the only thing I could have from the finish line grub, and burst into tears. Marathoner.

Crossing the finish line!


Overall, it was a very good race. It was a bit amateur, but overall well-run, and the volunteers were very friendly. The Expo was well-run and I enjoyed the Martian theme. My friend loved the course, but I don't think I'd do the Marathon again. It was just too long to be on Hines Drive and too far a distance for the out and back. Also, the course wasn't conducive to crowds, and I really missed having crowd support.  Given the heat, they could have used more water stops. They were every 2 - 2.5 miles, and one was out of cups when I got there.  I'd also like to see them change the finish. The Kid's Marathon was finishing at the same finish line at the same time, so my marathoner picture has me off to one side, with two kids and one of the kid's Dad featured more prominently. Call me a jerk, but I just ran a f*cking MARATHON and I should have a picture that's centered on me. 

All else aside, I'd recommend this race. There are some things to fix, but you won't regret running it. 

Walking toward my husband after finishing!

As for me, I ran a marathon! I finished in 5:17. Not the best time, I know, but I don't care. I did it. And with every step, I knew I was running for a bigger cause. To date, I've raised $3,802 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.  If you would like to donate, you may do so here: Team Fox  100% of your donation will go directly toward grants and research aimed at better treatments and a cure. I am proud to be a marathoner and proud of what I did to support my father-in-law. 

Another successful outing with my running buddy!


  1. Congratulations! I have zero desire to ever do a marathon but I'm always impressed by those who not only attempt one but finish. The time is irrelevant...YOU FINISHED! And you did it all for a worthy cause. Congratulations again!